Saturday, December 15, 2007

Prolife Prochoice Gun-toting Non-violent

Following the shootings in Colorado, the religious blogs have been ablaze. Some folks have been saying that religious organizations can't have armed guards. Others are saying that it was God's good blessing that lethal force was available to stop a murderous rampage.

I'll just admit that I'm torn on the issue. A fellow seminarian returned his concealed-carry license when he came to seminary, and I can respect that. (He didn't give up his guns, but since he couldn't have them at seminary he thought it best not to have a usable license that he wasn't going to use.) Yet I also grew up with a pistol packin' padre. (I never knew about it until we were in a very rough section of Virginia Beach, VA.)

What I think I can safely say is this: if there is any grey area that allows someone to be pro-life by conviction, but pro-choice in practice then the same license should be granted to someone who is non-violent by conviction, but pro-gun ownership.


Anonymous said...

Yes, it's a hard issue. But it is also hard to argue with results. The off-duty guard in the church stopped the gunman from killing countless other innocents.

On this one, I think the facts speak for themselves.

Not that I'm carrying a gun or anything, I'm just glad that others do!

Amy said...

I would challenge your statement that someone can be non-violent by conviction and carry a gun at the same time. On the surface, it should be able to work, especially with the wording you chose - since "non-violence" is a strategy and course of action, rather than a worldview - the worldview is "pacifism," - it is certainly possible to be non-violent and carry a gun at the same time. Any time someone restrains themselves from randomly shooting passersby, they're being nonviolent.

However, by adding "non-violent by conviction," you are changing the conversation from that of action to that of theory - you are truly talking about pacifism. The act of buying a gun is an action that demonstrates core beliefs - beliefs that say, yes it is alright at times to use violence. As you learn how to use it properly, you train yourselves in the methods of violence should make the decision to use them. And so, because of the values inherent in gun ownership, it is truly impossible to state that one can be "non-violent by conviction" and still carry a gun.

I'm not saying that all those who own guns are preparing to wreak havoc on society - but I will say that rather than being "non-violent" by conviction, such people are "limitedly-violent" by conviction. As a pacifist, I certainly prefer those who are "limitedly violent" by conviction to those who participate in killings like those in Colorado, but I still cannot endorse their use of guns (even, or especially, in the church environment.)

Now, I don't think you're parallel with those who are pro-choice but have a general value for life is quite accurate (though I do understand your point), because the pro-life and pro-choice stands come out of a different understanding about when life begins. Since you and I don't trace the beginnings of life to the same moment, we don't have a common definition to work from, which I think fuels alot of the vehemency and anger around this issue. However, I think we both agree that gun-usage is a violent act - where we disagree is on whether or not it is a morally acceptable decision.

I hope all of this is clear. Take care.

Chris said...


Actually, we don't agree that gun use is violent. What is violence? Is it simply the use of physical force upon another person so as to injure or abuse? If so, surgery is a violent (but life-saving) act. So is childbirth. For an act to be violent, intention needs to be there.

The Hebrew words for violence carry that meaning of force used to commit injustice (often-time working themselves into words such as "plunder" or "oppression"). The Torah also teaches that there is a legitimate use of physical force in correcting egregious acts (particularly murder). Romans 13 reiterates this position, and even Jesus concurs.

If the purpose of carrying a gun is to face such acts of violence and overcome them (an intention supported by 20+ years of research on private gun ownership), then I think it can be argued that concealed carry of a deadly weapon can be an act of anti-violence.